Three successes and one disaster. First the bad news. The green party has changed its policy from the minimum wage only being necessary until the Basic Income is fully operational, to the minimum Wage being a permanent feature. So every potential employer must always pay all employees £7 per hour.
We agree that this is necessary at present, but it ignores a key advantage of the Basic Income when an adequate Basic Income is in place, and a steady state economy a policy aim, in pursuance of the Paris Climate Agreement, namely that every potential employee will have a completely free choice whether to work at all, or to accept any particular job.
This is what I said in an earlier blog on this topic:
“Consider a struggling business from the arbeitgebers point of view. The German word for employer translates ‘work-giver’. If the business folds – no jobs. But if you have a Basic income, you can make an individual decision whether a job is worth your while. Studies showing that the minimum wage does not destroy jobs have only been done when the economy was growing. If the Paris agreement is to achieve anything, a zero growth economy may be necessary for a time. If that happens – even by accident, as in 2008, a minimum wage must reduce the number of jobs available and a Living Wage even more so. I am pleading for recognition that both sides of the old bosses and workers battle-line will have a new incentive to compromise”
This change in Green Party policy is as dogma driven as the present Conservative government’s approach to benefits or climate change. Thank goodness the Green Party is still insignificant, or it would be as serious a mistake as Brexit, or Trump. There will be a completely unnecessary shortage of jobs, as they will simply not be viable for many businesses. We agree that many employers are bastards. But as I have explained in another blog, they have no option in a growth based culture. To succeed they must be, or get trampled on by the other Capitalists. They have been considerably more so since the introduction of benefit sanctions in October 2012. Zero hours contracts were not a problem until then, but they are now at 5 times at that level.
But once that freedom to say no is conferred by an adequate Basic income (my figure is £175 per week in Britain), all employers, whatever their true nature, will have to appear reasonable. But there are those who cannot believe this. they see bosses as inherently nasty and exploitative, and always will be. Even if that were true, and my ‘belief’ (for me, simple logic) that the Basic income will force then to offer acceptable terms is wrong, it will still be true that jobs which would exist will not. Conference was swayed by two passionate speeches (Anne Gray and Laura Bannister), whilst I was reduced to trying to explain a procedural motion. Due to business in the closing conference session being rushed though, the above case was not heard.
Throughout my 44 years in the Green Party I have had a vision that the ‘left/right’ divide can be healed by the Basic Income, and that political conflict from now on will have to be between those who think living within ecological constraints is paramount, and those who still believe there will always be technological fixes.
I appeal to readers of this blog to support me on this. Please re-tweet this, comment on my blog, and also on the Green Party Members’ Website. I have often said I cannot leave the Green Party: I have nowhere else to go. That remains true. It is still the nearest party to what I believe in, and (like Europe) I am not yet convinced it is beyond hope. But this class war backward step does drive me closer to despair.
But that apart, conference was inspiring. It was a congress of Greens from all over the world. In my next blog I shall tell of three potentially crucial contacts I have made.